fish help?
September 4, 2005 1:24 PM   Subscribe

My roommate got a goldfish as a prize from some stupid on-campus contest and is keeping it in a bowl and not taking good care of it. I want to help it but I don't have the money to fork out for a tank or anything like that, so what can I do with it?
posted by invitapriore to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At the very least oxygenate the water somehow. It will die soon w/out it. Pumps w/a pumice type stone at the end are fairly cheap.
posted by prodevel at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2005

Don't feel bad if it dies. Fish die, even if you do try to take care of them (or, in my case, if your Dad tries to clean the 1 gallon tank with pool chlorine, and kills your beloved beta, Ikemefuna).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:21 PM on September 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Some perspective here: the fish that your roommate has cost the about $0.05. It is no doubt a feeder goldfish and not anything with any huge value. No doubt, the bowl and fish food cost more than the fish.

Talk to your roommate and try posing it in a more constructive way than "I'm taking over your fish care because you're a heartless cad." You could try, "hey, you know I'm really into fish and would like to set up a tank with a filter and pump." Then get something slightly better than a bowl, at least something with a filter and a light. While you're at it, get a couple plastic pitchers to hold and take water for cycling in or out.

I'd keep it down to a gallon or two. Ask yourself how much water you want to clean up when the tank gets knocked over.

Enjoy your fish! I kept black mollies when I was in college and had 3 generations over the course of a school year.
posted by plinth at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2005

Without spending money, you could change the water every few days. To get the ammonia out, you'd have to let the water you're planning on changing to sit for at least 24 hours.

For about $10 you could buy a cheap 5 gallon aquarium without a hood, and then you wouldn't have to change the water as much. for another $15 dollars you can add a filter.

The biggest problem is that while goldfish are pretty hardy and can survive in bowls (at least for a little while) it stunts there growth and causes them to have shortened lives.
posted by drezdn at 7:02 PM on September 4, 2005

I had two goldfish living together in a fishbowl the size of a piggy bank. I cleaned it every week, maybe. Made sure I didn't overfeed them.

They lived for five years, and could have probably lived longer had I not gone off to college.

* Disclaimer: These fish were also part of a cryogenic project I undertook in High School, which may have afforded them super-fish powers, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:29 PM on September 4, 2005

Goldfish are pretty hardy. Make sure it has fresh water every 3-5 days and food every other day, and it will live a full life.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:35 PM on September 4, 2005

It's not the ammonia you have to worry about in the fresh tap water -- it's chlorine. The ammonia is in your dirty water. It builds up from decaying food and waste, so controlling that will help control the water quality. Don't give him too much food, and don't let him keep leftovers for later.

There are lots of things you can do for the fish without getting a tank or filter. (These things are nice, but their effects can be duplicated in other ways, if you've only got one fish.)

Keep a clean ice cream bucket or juice pitcher with day-old water that never has anything else in it. (i.e.; no juice, no bleach, no dish soap, no nothing.) You can swap out a cup or two of bad for a cup or two of good every two or three days. This is a lot less stressful for the fish than a full water change.

Put a little substrate in the bowl -- a few marbles, or a quarter cup of gravel. You can rinse the lumps off in day-old tap water, but don't wash it. Bacterial growth on this substrate will act as a biological filter. These friendly bacteria grow on everything in the tank, but as with the oxygen exchange, the more surface area, the better. Little things have lots of surface area. The fish will enjoy a more stable environment this way than if you let his bowl get dirty and then clean it thoroughly.

If the fish bowl is the standard fish bowl shape, fill it to the widest point in the bowl. This makes the most surface area between sea and sky, and therefore the most area for oxygen exchange. Or, for about five dollars, you can pick up an airstone and pump. A little agitation keeps the water well-oxygenated too. (No stick blenders!)

One goldfish can exist happily in a bowl of about a gallon capacity if you feed him the right amount and keep his water nice.
posted by Sallyfur at 7:57 PM on September 4, 2005

You can probably get a 10 gallon tank with a filter, hood, and light from craigslist for free or very cheap. I see them on my local craigslist at least twice a month.

You can also get some tap water conditioner for a few dollars. You add this liquid to tap water to remove chlorine, and then you don't have to worry about keeping water standing around.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:46 PM on September 4, 2005

In an ideal world, you change about 10% of the water daily. This process will also oxygenate the water decently, and costs nothing.
posted by mosch at 10:04 PM on September 4, 2005

You can get some aquarium vegetation in a pet store that would keep the water oxygenated longer, I think.
posted by semmi at 10:21 PM on September 4, 2005

Explain that if you release it, it could grow to full size and lead a relatively long and adventurous life. Talk you friend into going with you to find a lake or large pond that looks like it supports fish. Dump the fish in there.

If the friend doesn't agree, consider doing it yourself when the friend is not home. Leave a note "from the naked chicks at PETA" explaining why they did it.

In the bowl, put a nice plant that you can help water, or maybe a toy fish.
posted by pracowity at 1:47 AM on September 5, 2005

Talk you friend into going with you to find a lake or large pond that looks like it supports fish. Dump the fish in there.

Do NOT do that. Please.
posted by hootch at 8:54 AM on September 5, 2005

I won a fish in similar circumstances, just had a traditional fishbowl (a gallon or so) and changed the water every week (leaving the water out 24hrs to get rid of chlorine). Nothing too special. Added some fake plants and stuff to make it more interesting over the years. He lasted 6 years. It doesn't take much.
posted by jaysus chris at 4:37 PM on September 5, 2005

« Older I need a License to Drive   |   Alcohol tolerance vs. BAC Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.